The images of Dubai’s towering skyline, of supercars swooshing on shiny roads and of shoppers laden with more bags than they can carry do not mean a weekend trip to the city has to burn a hole in your pocket.
Read on for some top recommendations on how to enjoy an action-packed weekend trip to the city without breaking the bank.
Dubai sightseeing on the cheap
No invitation is required to visit the royals’ former residence at Sheikh Saeed Al Maktoum House. Built in 1896, the iconic landmark narrates the story of Dubai’s glorious past with a rare and varied collection of historic photographs and memorabilia of the sheikhs and their lives.
Delve deeper into the city’s history with a trip to Dubai Museum. Housed in Al Fahidi Fort, Dubai’s oldest building has served multiple purposes in the past – from being the former premises of the monarch to an arsenal for artillery and weapons as well as a prison for outlaws.
While in the Al Fahidi district, hop on anabra (a traditional wooden boat) to enjoy a breezy and scenic trip along the Dubai Creek, the historic waterway around which the city has grown over the years. Abras cross the Creek between the Textile Souk and Spice Souk, so do not forget to pick up a few bargains while you are there.
Also visit the world’s largest man-made island, the Palm Jumeirah. Take a ride on the Palm Monorail that connects the Gateway station at the base of the Palm with the Atlantis hotel at the far end for some stunning views of the famous landmark and surrounding city, flanked by numerous world-class developments along the way.
Priceless experiences at no price at all
Fondly referred to as the city of celebrations, Dubai is one place where the fun never stops. Kick off the year with the iconic Dubai Shopping Festival and find bargains at leading retailers and stores across the city. Top off world-class retail therapy with free live entertainment at public hotspots and malls while keeping an eye out for a flash mob performance.
Other flagship festivals include XYoga Dubai, Dubai Food Festival, Emirates Airline Festival of Literature, Dubai Summer Surprises, Dubai Motor Festival, Dubai International Film Festival and the annual Global Village extravaganza.
Take a stroll along The Walk in Jumeirah Beach Residence with its numerous cafés, restaurants, boutiques and child-friendly activities, a trip to the Spice and Gold Souks in Deira, or to Meena Bazaar in Bur Dubai, as well as a dip in the pristine waters of the Arabian Gulf at Jumeirah Beach or Kite Beach, complete with free public facilities and conveniences.
Eat the world on a budget
A melting pot of more than 200 different nationalities and cultures, Dubai is home to some of the best restaurants and chefs with a rich culinary offering that is just as diverse in pricing.
Indulge in tempting local seafood delicacies at popular beachside eatery Bu Qtair or fall in love with international twists on traditional Middle Eastern food at one of the many home-grown Just Falafel outlets.
Alternatively, experience South East Asian culinary bliss with a biryani cooked to perfection in the kitchens of one of the city’s oldest Pakistani restaurants, Student Biryani, or try out the hot curries of Sri Lanka at Curry Leaf. And do not miss the vastness of vegetarian choices awaiting you in the streets of Oud Metha.